Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 21, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

10:00 pm
didn't get a good job. i got out of college in the early '90s when there was another recession going on, and i remember being fascinated by stories from baby boom autoworkers about how easy they'd had it finding work. i read a story in the detroit free press about a young guy who was pumping gas in flint when a gm personnel officer rolled in and asked why aren't you working in the shop. so the pump jockey shrugged, and the driver took down his name and number, and a week later he got a call telling him to report for work. ..
10:01 pm
>> you just can't walk into general motors. larry eventually made it to general motors but i think it took him 10 years also working another smaller concerns and still not in actual employee but a fireman and works for the subcontractor.
10:02 pm
and the other graduated in 1965 in the job search consisted of cutting class's to apply all auto plants in to hold down -- in town hall it was no coincidence that when the vietnam war was cranking up it was the perfect war for general motors because it was big enough to provide $750 million per year of defense contracts but not so big that it could not build cars light in world war ii. so 65 to 69 not a single month when the unemployment rate was higher than 4% in the united states for you could not be as lacquer the hippies had to create the alternative morality to justify themselves. so dog got married and bought a house and he was 20
10:03 pm
and went on to work 37 years of general motors the course was set right out of my school he thought the baby boomers would be the last generation to earn more than their parents support of this is a generational story then in 2006 the body was torn down and saw a sign that said demolition means progress which i thought was orwellian. now that piece of land looks like a cross between nagasaki and the badlands is nothing there but wildflowers and they had to do layoff all waitresses' after the plant closed he had guys touche of the many across the bar between the ship's only to those that to
10:04 pm
the rooms to rent above the bar so what happened to those factories that to find cover community's? as a research the book i found there is a biography of the american middle-class and that is when -- what i want to talk about today because one of the my points is while the trends originally on the east and west coasts the economic trends originate in the midwest this is the birthplace in becoming the graveyard of the middle class where henry ford started to pay workers $5 a day so they could buy the cars they were building and this is for the sit-down strike took place with the modern union movement that played a big role to maintain the middle-class to make share -- make sure they got a fair share in the uaw always set the standard because of a product has more value during production of the automobile so the first excerpt is about a
10:05 pm
family friend who is 98 years old and one of the last of not the last surviving veterans of the sit-down strike and i will talk about how his life reflected the prosperity of the midcentury middle-class. >> one of the last surviving sit down strikers' natalie participated in the middle class but enjoyed all of the spoils of the peace that followed and tear and $27 an hour in the '70s mortgage any analyst wildlife biologist after he retired he was guaranteed free health care for the rest of his life 38 years so far only one year the work to the shot dead without the benefits from the uaw everyone is the unwanted
10:06 pm
uncle if you live his old age cattle he decided 100 years is enough life after gm went they groped in 2008 i told him the results and the consumption of his health benefits was personally responsible for the gm financial crisis he cackled provide of mower i would be living without it may be with one of my nephews or nieces my two sisters is. i don't know where i would be if i would not be living in the $2,000 a month apartment how long will the benefits last? although many i have this interest money i have saved. in his own lifetime that began three months after robo or one whit from farm boy to autoworker to prosper as pension american went from agrarian society to the post industrial nation and flint went from a small town building a cottage industry to the highest per-capita
10:07 pm
industry in the united states with the highest murder rate in the nation and how did all this happened in the span of one man's years? everett's father wanted to be a farmer but could not make cornyn beans grow so he worked with the family general store creating goods for milk and potatoes and takes aerial moves his family to flint where he built airplanes at the buick division would employ two-thirds of the city by the early 20th-century flint was already on the third great industry a descendant of the last in 1965 a saw mill began to operate with the pinewoods a.m. though lumber than the use that to become the carriage making capital when the automobile reid carriages obsolete been buick added in mentioned in the company became general motors for urban network
10:08 pm
flints population quadrupled 30,000 at one hit a 36,000 and gm had those all-out throughout the mississippi valley hitting a one-way tickets to the vehicle city the newcomers caveman railroad cars to into rented a tiny house all he could afford was factory pay. and then tried farming again and failed again and returned to flinch for good. he grew up of a city boy was no agricultural ambitions after graduating high-school he enlisted as "the apprentice" tool and dye maker at $0.50 per hour not only were the wages were low but the job could disappear in one day if you wanted in opening he would hand out a yellow sweatband bachelors were laid off while married
10:09 pm
men were kept the job and when did relate also men could work in the plant you could have a supervisor job then have it slip that said you we're done on november november 12th 3 welders conducted a sit down demonstration they pulled the time cards from the rackham and tired of parma's stopped working with the shutdown the plant manager agreed to meet with them who said production would not resume until they return to work the next day 500 autoworkers signed up there prevented the firing the uaw plan to the strike and january when the production is at its peak in the new deal governor would be sworn in but the week after christmas the company forced the unions and. on december 30th there rumors circulated that gm was about to shift the dye
10:10 pm
to grand rapids to stamp out 400 you expert day then they went on strike the move ended up causing the shutdown it was intending to prevent that 10:00 p.m. the nation's stopped working in refuse to go home and the strike had begun edward was working at the chevrolet plant because it was located in the low-lying area of the flint river ran the strike spread everybody as a supervisor vichy keep working or join the union he said joint. you need a. the sit-down strike was the most important event of his career to make is working man's fortune possible over the source of his long life there was never a better time to work for general motors than the 40's through the '70s and never a better time period after gm recognize the uaw to receive a pension plan and health insurance during world war ii he stayed out of combat to build armored trucks for
10:11 pm
chevrolet there would even bus people up from the south and everybody was working every betty had a job or wonder to cars we were getting better homes but america's greatest 20th-century invention was not the airplane or the atomic bomb or the lunar lander but the middle-class. we won the cold war not because of our military strength but we share the wealth more broadly than the communists and as a result had more wealth to share. born half a century later i assume to universal prosperity was a natural condition of life space beginning to assume otherwise the labor union through the economic order of what was saddled on their backs and the order to provide pleasures for the
10:12 pm
few in collective bargaining made obsolete the wages that stated that labor could command no more than its living from capitol and the notorious marketplace as bidding at the factory gate where they would offer services for $0.10 per hour only to lose a job to a more desperate man who did take $0.9 if this is nacelles of them perhaps the golden age of american worker was the aberration made possible by the fact resume the country to re-emerge from world war ii with any industrial capacity plan that end as soon as the world would rebuild itself making them the obsolete class? in this global century to reconcile themselves of the peasantry we have to ask was the american middle-class just a moment?
10:13 pm
america will never be as healthy as it was in the '50s and '60s because we had no competitors during those decades than the world was still digging itself out from the damage several ports to end those countries that became our competitors were the countries we defeated during that war and paid to rebuild the infrastructure so they have more modern factories in may took over responsibility for their defense over here the best engineers we're going into defensive aerospace because that is for the big government contracts were there best engineers are building cars and the event that really put the end to the geometric expansion of the way of life was the arab oil embargo in 73 also another imperial responsibility after world war ii which was the protection of israel after recent arms to israel and
10:14 pm
golda meir was the prime minister who requested those so there is the connection there. saudi arabia cut off our oil supply in the price of a gallon of gas going from $0.63 a gallon and with the license plate with an item number you get gas monday when stare friday or even number tuesday and thursday saturday at a time when the average american car got 30 miles to the gallon so i found a 1972 chevy impala after the fact there was a rolling hotel. [laughter] i drove it from michigan to california and slipped comfortably in the backseat not surprisingly they did not what cars to fill up every day but the auto companies did not want to build small cars they would sign the contract 11 the workers to retire after 381
10:15 pm
negative 30 years neh and there was not enough profit margins with the small cars to pay for the benefits they really only believed those flaky people in california wanted to buy those small cars they made terrible small cars the pinto was rushed into production after 25 months and four decided it would be cheaper to pay off the lawsuits and to put the gas tank above a the we are axle and 30 live with the plastic liner there is a natural meadow discovered in those to put a value on human life and of they go with the quayle and both of my head gaskets plug on mind
10:16 pm
-- minds of their still people that will not touch them and the first great recession but in the '80s not nationwide like we just had but a deeper here that even the recent recession it was confined to the midwest. and those caused by the iranian revolution and the anti-inflationary industry set by carter they could not for the loan to buy one or a new house either this had a terrible effect on the steel mills that sold half of the product to the steel industry so nec's is what happened to a the steelworker starting his career in the '60s and also hall that crisis led to the launching of broccoli on his career as a community organizer that is from the
10:17 pm
previous book that i wrote young mr. obama in the making of a black president. the term rust belt originated was originally the rust bowl the first usage i felt was time magazine popularized by eight walter mondale during the presidential campaign when he accused reagan to turn the midwest into the rust bowl then it was altered to match the sunbelt's and whatever other bills that we have. [laughter] the bible belt. the term was the frost belt's before that. on the east side of chicago life to not go according to nature of the rest of the world when i fell in other neighborhoods they stayed dark until the next morning but on the side the night sky burned red when the
10:18 pm
waste product of steelmaking the steel mills created their own sun and sky and weather. in other neighborhoods housewives would state in deciding when a range of and did not want their sheets stayed with the senate there would be a metallic missed so thick you could get us boon to get a hold of it and if the natives the stench was as natural as the oxygen in did not go to work when the sun rose they went 11 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. or three teeeleven or sometimes a different shift every week when you went above 163 all the restaurants are open when you knocked on the door at the same hour he would sell you a cold pack of beer
10:19 pm
no matter the 2:00 a.m. license two years after his father is a demand came home from the war stanley was the exotic and the ethnic neighborhood his playmates call him catholic schiller as a student in the chicago occasional ice cody never thought about going to college because steelmakers made morphing chemistry teachers he thought about playing football and about 5% of my class went to college with a lot of guys on the side did not have plans we had the park and the teams in the plan was to get a better team campbell players to make enough money to get a car to make it to the game when graduated he had to pay renter get kicked out of his father's house said he walked over to enter lakes deal it was the worst
10:20 pm
job but it paid $2.32 an hour enough for an apartment and a car. just go apply there was so much work especially during vietnam they hired 50 guys that day and you'd always see guys a new helmets walking around the vietnam war which cause so much work to the steel industry made it easy for him to get hired but made it difficult to enroll in the apprenticeships program. one afternoon in 1966 as driving home from work a friend pulled up waving the envelope i just got drafted. so did you. sure enough when he arrived home the same envelope was waiting in the mailbox i guess that is why it was so high because especially in the industry because the young blue-collar males we're being drafted to the army.
10:21 pm
the war lasted longer so there was plenty of work with the cable but for two years he was part of the construction gang. and had whole life to work with the international construction company to where he would from the way home from the war and which would help him keep him on the side and then he got hit his girlfriend pregnant with to keep them on the side forever he does come back from vietnam to have big plans to travel the world. he was a planning for fatherhood into put in those careers for open-heart surgery then he began a pipe producer apprenticeships out wisconsin steel but nobody knew that he could not have prodded at a worse time.
10:22 pm
wisconsin steel was purchased by international harvester in in 1902 and they wanted to have placed deal and part steel labor dispute killed off but it had nothing to do with the steelworkers. november 1st, 1979 they went on strike after the company demanded they accept compulsory overtime and limits of seniority. international harvester was still wisconsin steel biggest customer. when they set up television news crews were gathered outside. did you hear what happened? it is closed. closed? he could not believe that why would they close the mill? wisconsin steel was in the neighborhood three generations how could that close? says he left carrying his
10:23 pm
bank of four men said we will contact you if something changes. nothing ever change. march 27 was the last day they ever spent inside wisconsin steel the mill was bankrupt. the last to paychecks bounced he worked there nine and a half years, the six months short of what would qualify for a pension he was promised 4200 in severance and bad check at $700. stanley was hurting $10 an hour but once he was laid off he got $100 per week in unemployment and would every to pick up at the hot spot he even asked for a tryout with the chicago bears he told his lifelike could not pay so i will just take my daughter to buy her clothes.
10:24 pm
him an end a few guys went to a of a mill in indiana but then he was laid off again in chicago had no more use for rob stamps so he moved to houston said he found a job playing as she rocked the high gasoline prices had brought prosperity and texas and out of work auto executive joked used in every region to filled his car with the papers and sold them in he would stand on a scaffold with a bunch of illegal aliens after houston he tried california and in goldeneye bartending school the promised a job and the glasses ended his instructors said it think you'd be better off working on your own so bob stanley a steelworker wandered back home for no other reason than it was spring and softball season was about to start at the park. the 36 old bachelor unemployment did not bother
10:25 pm
him along with three friends t. paid a couple hundred bucks a month to share an apartment and one remains italy's drive him to regain. he found a job as a plumber for the federal government but he had to start his whole retirement savings over again at age 40 so it took camelot lager to retire than he expected originally. so the last excerpt is what happens to a city after it disappears. this is about cleveland a neighborhood called islamic village was the cradle of the housing crisis that sink the entire american economy in 2008. i have to go back i did not explain about barack obama. he was hired in chicago i will go back, in this suburb of calumet city desperate
10:26 pm
steelworkers would turn to help the others to his parishioners plight in the religious conference. and also looking for a black organizer to serve and unable to find the right candidate locally they took out an advertisement in the magazine community jobs and was read by a graduate at the columbia school in barack obama began his rise of the presidency. with this deal workers still in denial they would plan to right out there and employ nonunion benefits they would always the one strike and return to work and earn more money than ever. wise a different this time?
10:27 pm
the less fortunate landed it minimum-wage jobs at sherman williams pate factory or lays potato chip in a never made as much money again. so back to cleveland, the cradle of the housing crisis that was seen the entire american in it economy in 2008 also to pay attention to what is going on in the midwest. slavic village was settled by bohemians and tax imported to break the strike at the cleveland to mel and one of those ethnic ghettos where you could speak the old world language and follow the old world customs your grandparents brodeur over to be married and working and drinking were shipping and be buried all within the same square mile but that would break up after world war ii so they
10:28 pm
sold out in the neighborhood is changed there is another cody that means the element. in the 2000 the village population fell 20% and those unwanted houses attracted speculators and flippers it had some of the weakest lending laws in the nation so on their quest opened an office and invented the stated income loan. if a borrower said hebron's 100,000 the lender took his word for it to. they would not let the facts get in the way. but 903 the properties were in foreclosure the highest in the zip code of any
10:29 pm
nation but of what it is like to live in the neighborhood of empty homes. but it houses the to have been then slavic village is the site of a mass rapture. the retired magazine editor a bachelor who would like to sit on his porch has lived his entire life in this little house of his grandfather bought in 1923. the kind of house that is good enough for everyone in cleveland. 800 square feet in a plot of grass with the virgin mary and the american flag. he shared with his brother. now he is alone. he died in 2005. his school friends want to know why he didn't go to the suburbs. is no wonder the neighborhood they grew up in.
10:30 pm
he stayed here and like many other urban neighborhoods where interrogation is the arrival of the first black and the leaving of though white slavic village only changed half way. the newspapers and lunchtime costs up for about crackpot and warsaw. and where he was baptized. . .
10:31 pm
>> eventually, a corner of the foundation collapsed causing the floor to sink 4 inches. the tenant moved occupant, and the house was -- moved out, and the house was demolished. the same thing happened across the street. after they set the house on fire, michaels went to court to have the place demolished. frugality was easy for michaels. having inherited his house, he never made a mortgage payment. he was astonished by the appliance repairman who divorced his wife and abandoned his house owing $83,000 and by the speculators who were paying double what the old line neighbors knew the properties were worth. sometimes we looked at some of these homes, and we said this is going for $86,000? what is going on? the bank wasn't looking at applications. as the loans went bad and the houses empty, the scrappers arrived tearing out furnesses and water pipes -- furnaces and
10:32 pm
water pipes right in broad daylight. clausen avenue came such a magnet for thieves, they even broke into occupied houses. a kid down the street tried to burgle michaels, but michaels chased him off. clevelanders have a saying, cleveland's pain, the rest of us gain. the lenders were so aggressive they went door to door on the east side of cleveland pointing out loose shingles, collapsing chimneys or sagging porches. money from a second mortgage could repair any of those defects, the door to door brokers told the homeowners. they never mentioned the adjustable rates. anita gardener's sons fell for that scam.
10:33 pm
gardener, who worked 31 years as a heavy duty machinist bought a two-story house on the east side for $21,000 back in the early 1970s. she was, it was almost paid off when she was diagnosed with a brain disorder that left her too ill to work or even walk up the stairs to her bedroom. so she bought a one-bedroom home and signed the old house, my buckingham palace where i could close off the world, over to her 30-something son. when gardener moved in, every house was owned by an autoworker, steel worker with a wife and new car. then the neighborhood's largest employer closed in 1999. the blue collar workers moved out, and the mortgage brokers moved in. having lost their paychecks, these dispossessed factory rats were told they still had a source of income.
10:34 pm
this couldn't have happened if people had good jobs, gardener said, or why would they change their mortgage? they were desperate for money. it was targeted, it was definitely targeted. morgan agents were going door to door calling on the phone. it was in the air. you don't have to have credit. you can have nice things. gardener's sons fell for the pitch. neither had been able to afford nice things. the other brother had served 11 years on a drug charge. when he got out of prison, the only job he could find was delivering lumber for sears. when an agent for countrywide financial -- whose ceo is in prison now, by the way -- offered them a mortgage, they signed. gardener suspects the agent falsely inflated the home's value. agents received bigger commissions for adjustable rate mortgages. the boys used the second
10:35 pm
mortgage for a shopping spree, a new couch, a big screen tv, a reafrican-american rater in the garage full of beer. the monthly payments began at $436 a month, but as the boys missed payments, it more than doubled to 950. when the past due amount reached $4,000, gardener's sons appealed to mom for a bailout. this raises a question, which is the greater social ill, allowing people who can no longer afford their mortgages to stay in their houses, thus undermining the credit system by letting people skip out on payments or evicting people from the houses for which there is no buyer, thus undermining the property itself and the surrounding neighborhood. ted michaels and anita gardener would say let the poor folks say and look after the house. vacant houses attract criminals. michaels called the cops on a stripper trying to tear the aluminum drainpipe off a house at 11:00 in the morning. in a 150-foot radius around a vacant house, property values go
10:36 pm
down at least $7,000. it's usually denuded of plumbing fixtures, boilers, carpeting, sinks, toilets and any architectural sconces that can be peddled to a secondhand shop. yellow foreclosure stickers are not warnings, they're invitations. inner sky scavengers salvage the last pennies of value until the mortgage lender ends up paying the city for demolition. so after all that i should tell you that my book has a happy ending. [laughter] when i went back to lansing, i found out that the fisher body plant whose demolition had helped inspire the book had actually been replaced. it was obsolete because it was costing general motors millions of dollars a year to build bodies in one plant and ship them across town to another plant to be assembled. so they acquired some land out in the country and put the whole operation under one roof. the plant on the grand river, which was 100 years old, was
10:37 pm
also torn down and replaced and now builds the cadillac ats which was car of the year and is the best-selling cadillac in decades. and it's also going to be building the chevy camaro soon. i think it's interesting to talk about the difference between lansing and flint where gm never replaced the plants it tore down, and auto employment has gone from 80,000 in the late 1970s to 7500 now. and as a result, the town has half the people it had, and its murder rate so high, its murder rate is 60 per 100,000, and if new york had the same murder rate, it would have 5,000 murders a year. so it's -- when you look at murders of cities in the western hemisphere, flint is up there with latin american drug capitals. but flint, it was crippled by the legacy of the sit-down strike because the flint autoworkers never let go of that militant spirit. strikes there were more frequent and lasted longer than anywhere
10:38 pm
else in the gm universe, so gm dispersed its workers to less militant locals. i also discovered a company in lansing which makes particle accelerators for physics experiments, x-ray imaging devices, and the company's president told we lansing was one of the few places he could operate the business because he'd hired retired gm craftsmen and very few places had both the academic knowledge and the ethic of manual craftsmanship that gm had imparted to the community. so i think high-tech manufacturing offers a future for postindustrial cities. another example i found about that was in syracuse, new york, and syracuse used to be the air-conditioning capital of america, and it made the sun belt possible. as a result, they ended up moving all the jobs down south because that's where the customers were, and the labor was cheaper. so syracuse invented the appliance that caused its own
10:39 pm
demise. but i visited a company which made high compression chillers, and they needed the, you know, legacy of craftsmanship and the legacy of engineeringnology that was still in the -- knowledge that was still in the community. and finally gus sold his bar. i actually, i ran into him about a month ago. he was working on a house he still owns across the street from the old bar, and i showed him the book, and he said i can't read english. so i'm hoping this book does well enough for there to be a greek edition for gus to read. [laughter] and, actually, if it does generate royalties, i'm going to donate 25% to some of the social service agencies that i wrote about in here such as slavic village development or recovery park which is an urban crop and fish farm in detroit. so i guess -- and as i talk here about the future of some of these high-tech businesses, i guess what i should end with is
10:40 pm
that michigan did not become great because of the auto industry, the auto industry became great because of a michigander. by name of henry ford. so i will take any questions now if anybody has any. i guess we have to go up to the microphone. no? oh, you don't have to do that? okay. >> you familiar with the book "someplace like america"? >> no, i'm not. tell me more ab it. >> well, there were actually two versions of it, and a reporter, writers -- a reporter and a photographer from acura did the first book. and that book inspired the springsteen song, and i can't remember the title of it now, one of the great -- >> okay. so was with it about -- >> how tough things are in america. and then they came out with a second one to check on the people they had interviewed. people had lost their jobs in steel mills and all across the
10:41 pm
country. >> right. >> they actually got an old chevy and drove and slept in the car and did all that kind of thing like people do, and they checked on them. it's an interesting book. no conclusions come from it, just that things are tough for a large number of people. >> [inaudible] >> yeah. i wrote a little bit about bruce springsteen in here and kind of -- there was a whole school in the early '80s of heartland rock, i guess they called it. so people, musicians finally got interested in blue collar work right when people stopped doing it. [laughter] so, you know, they'd been inspired by all these, you know, great two minute songs from california about, you know, the pacific ocean which was there, their greatest and most endless feature s and so they started writing songs about the mid midwest's greatest and most endless feature which was unemployment. there was bruce springsteen writing "my hometown," michael stanley from cleveland who wrote a book called "this town" which
10:42 pm
was an anthem of local pride. things are tough in cleveland. there was john cougar mellencamp, his songs jack and diane, pink house, and billy joel -- even though he's not actually from the rust belt, he wrote allentown, and bob seger had a song called making thunderbirds about the glory days of the auto industry. and be springsteen, actually, he did a song about youngstown, the ghost of tom -- >> that's the song the book inspired. >> oh, okay. okay. >> and the title's interesting because they were in california, there was a homeless person who was murdered, and the guy was -- he just wanted to see what it felt like to kill someone. >> oh, my god. >> so the homeless gather ored in this park in orange county, and these guys were camped with them, and all of a sudden the police came in to run them off at midnight, and the author said i can't believe they're doing this. and he said, what do you think? is this someplace like america?
10:43 pm
>> wow. do you know who the author is? >> no, i don't remember. >> are okay. i'll look it up. oh, okay. >> how many rust belt cities did you see that kind of bucked the trend and really didn't have a significant, you know, downfall? >> well, definitely chicago. i devoted a whole chapter to that, and it was from a comment i overherald from people actually working -- overheard from people actually working in a bookstore in the lansing, and they said we're all going to end up in chicago. [laughter] so it's kind of a rite of passage. you go to high school, you go to college, you spend a year or two on a low-wage job and then move to chicago, which was what i did. i followed all my friends to chicago in the mid 1990s. they just were suddenly picking up and moving during that recession. and, i mean, chicago finish there are a couple reasons. back in the '80s when i, during the period where i was reading about when stanley was
10:44 pm
losing his job, people really did think it was going to go the same way as detroit and gary and buffalo and just become a casualty. and a couple reasons were, one, it had a more diversified economy. i mean, the steel mills were only in one small part of chicago, but chicago had publishing, it had advertising, and most importantly it had finance. it's the financial capital of the midwest, so it was well positioned for when finance replaced industry. and mayor richard j. daley, he had really worked hard to preserve downtown. he inherited a downtown in which no buildings had been built since the 19 -- since the great depression. and, you know, he left it with the john hancock center and the sears tower, and he also made sure that o'hare, as transportation switched from trains to jets, that chicago was still the transportation center of the country. and someone in cleveland asked me what did chicago do right, and i i think what they wanted
10:45 pm
to know was, well, what can cleveland do that chicago did, and my conclusion was that cleveland can't do anything because in a lot of ways chicago's expense comes at the rest -- success comes at the expense of the rest of the region. i mean, it really attracts, you know, it's getting a free ride on the public education systems in michigan and indiana and ohio and here in wisconsin because, you know, so many young people move to chicago. i mean, there's at least one bar for every big ten school in chicago, and for my school, michigan state, i think there are over a dozen which i think are more than in east lansing. chicago is the number one destination for michigan state university graduates now. more than half the graduates now leave the state. so that's definitely the success story. but it's kind of a case where it's kind of a consequence of globalization just as money and education becomes concentrated among fewer people, it becomes concentrated among fewer cities
10:46 pm
too. so you had a -- did someone -- you had a question back there, yeah. >> i'm just wondering with the great depression and the rise of the unions because of that, say, why during this great recession it's been sort of absent backlash and why do you think that is? >> well, i think one problem is that people associate unions with industrial worker, with blue collar work. and i remember i asked a union, former union organizer or a union local president in chicago why don't more white collar workers demand unions, and he said, well, you know, the white collar worker, he has kind of a bob crash chet attitude. call me harry. so their kind of lulled into thinking that they're actually peers of the people they work
10:47 pm
for when the blue collar workers never had that attitude. i think people need the take the attitude that unions are for all workers, not just blue collar workers. but the union movement in the private industry is down to 6 or 7%. and certainly as you've seen here in wisconsin, now they're moving on to the public sector unions. i mean, i think maybe -- i don't know what the exact percentage is in the public sector, but it's higher. and they kind of use the argument, you know, after they destroy the public sector unions, they go to the people who are now doing less well than they would have been if they had a union and say, look, these people have jobs and benefits, aren't you envious of them? so they want to drag everybody down to that level. and, well, and another reason the depression was there was certainly more political support. i mean, one reason that the sit-down strike succeeded was because franklin d. roosevelt
10:48 pm
was in the white house, and frank murphy who was a roosevelt ally was the governor of michigan. they deliberately were trying to wait until he was inaugurated because he refused to send in the national guard to kick them out of the plants. so, and i don't think there's that kind of political support at least at the governor level anywhere in the midwest right now. >> you could argue barack obama? >> well, he did help us in chicago, and i think that's a big reason that he was so sympathetic to bailing out the auto industry. i mean, that was pretty much the first task of his administration, was putting together a task force to rescue the auto industry. and he certainly beat that drum hard during last year's campaign, especially in ohio where they had plenty of auto plants. mitt romney had written an op-ed for "the new york times," said -- it's titled let detroit go bankrupt. [laughter] and obama didn't let him forget about that.
10:49 pm
>> i'm curious -- >> yeah. >> -- the, what's, what would you say is the number one lesson that you take away from from what appears to be kind of an industrial evolution which has happened in the past and is likely to happen in the future as the economy evolves? is there a key lesson that you found that you would look and say that as we look at economies 10 and 20 and 30 years looking forward that you look at today as it was true here, it's likely to be true there and that people should be aware of? is. >> well, i would certainly say diversify your city's economy would probably be number one. because you look at flint, and flint had, i mean, two-thirds of the labor force in flint was dependent on general motors in one way or the other, either directly or through a
10:50 pm
subsidiary. and after, after they lost that, i mean, the whole town fell apart. there's no way you can replace 70,000 jobs, and even if you can replace them, there's no way you can replace them with the kind of middle class jobs that they had. so i think i'd say that would be the firm one lesson. -- the number one lesson. but, i mean, i think it was simply unavoidable. i mean, in the era when things were so good, the economy, i guess as they would say, was siloed. i mean, we didn't really have to think about the rest of the world. we were the only country that could make anything. and now we live in a global economy. and so workers are competing against workers all over the world. so, but don't be, don't be a one-industry town. i think that applies to big towns as well as small towns whether you, you know, have a
10:51 pm
paper mill or anything like that. don't think one industry's going to come in and save your town. >> [inaudible] >> don't think you're going to have a job for life, i suppose, is a lesson for workers. don't even think you're going to have benefits for life. because a lot of workers as you saw in wisconsin thought they were going to have a pension and men pits -- benefits. and it's sad that you have to say that a to people, but i think maybe the promise that the baby boomers thought that they grew up with i don't think people of my generation expect that same promise that they did of lifetime employment and cradle-to-grave benefits. i think -- all right. one more question here. i think it's about -- >> so what should happen with towns like mint and detroit? should they be dissolved? do they deserve to continue as cities? >> well --
10:52 pm
>> can they? is it feasible? >> well, i think that -- i don't think flint and detroit are functional cities anymore. really. i mean, they're both under the control of emergency managers appointed by the governor of michigan. whose job is really to keep cutting their budgets. but they've already been cut to such a level that they can no longer provide basic services. so, i mean, they've lost so many people that there's no way 700,000 lower class people in detroit can pay for the infrastructure that was built for 1.8 million people. in the 1950s. i mean, when i was in detroit, the lighting company blew out, and the library and wayne state and all the cord buildings downtown were shut down for the be day. so, i mean, that's the kind of thing you expect be to happen in third world capitals. i mean, i think the answer is consolidating them with the surrounding suburbs the way they did in indianapolis and drop toe
10:53 pm
and miami -- toronto and miami. because if a city can't afford democracy, it's not really a city anymore. it's, they're basically wards of the state, and it's really dragging down not just the city itself, but the entire state of michigan. i mean, when you have the two most violent cities in the nation, and when you have a city that is such an international similar symbol of urban decay you've got people flying in from france to take pictures of it, that reflects badly on the entire state of michigan from monroe to ironwood. all right. so i guess we've run through our hour, so i'll thank everybody for coming here. [applause] >> for more information visit the author's web site, >> now, tamim ansary, author of
10:54 pm
"games without rules" and the author of "lost decency, the untold afghan story. authors discuss the past, present and future of their country. this hourlong event was hosted by the commonwealth club of california. >> good afternoon, and welcome to today's meeting of the commonwealth club of california. i'm robert rosenthal, executive director of the center for investigator reporting. i'll be your chair today for today's program called "afghanistan." we also welcome our listening and internet audiences and invite everyone to visit us online at and now it's my pleasure to introduce our distinguished speakers. tamim ansary was born in kabul where his american mother taught english in afghanistan's first school for girls.
10:55 pm
tamim left for the u.s. in 1964. he is a writer, lecturer, teacher and director of the san francisco writers' workshop. he has written several noteworthy books and award-winning books including "a game without rules: the often untold history of afghanistan." he will sign in the book after the program today. our other author wassal born in kabul. his father was a prominent military office and leader. after high school he served in the afghan air force. when the political situation changed in the 1980s and russians invaded, he fled to germany and then came to the u.s. where he enjoyed a successful banking career. like tamim, he was shocked by 9/11. he visited afghanistan recently, and buck read about his amazing journey back to afghanistan in his book "lost decency, at an award-winning book, "the untold story of afghanistan." i think today's program's going to be very interesting. you may hear different perspectives. you're going to learn a lot
10:56 pm
about the history of afghanistan, and if you read these two books which are both wonderful books, you'll get in one, tamim's book, the context and history of afghanistan. if you read atta's book, you'll see a character who comes to life during part of the period of history we're going to talk about today. so we'll start off, please welcome tamim. [applause] >> thank you all for being here, thank you to the commonwealth club. let me check the time so i don't go over. all right, so i'm sure all of you are very interested in what's going on in afghanistan right now, who is contesting for the presidential seat in the elections next year, what happens after the nato forces withdraw, if they do. but as a historian, and we can get into all that with questions and so on, but as a historian what i'm interested in is how we got here. and i feel that how we got here is part of the question of where do we go from here. and, you know, in this book,
10:57 pm
"games without rules," i've gone back to what i consider the origins of the afghan nation's state which is about two and a half centuries ago, and i trace the narrative arc of that country, that emerging developing country which has still not quite developed, and i will note that the origins go back the about the same period that the united states was taking shape, late colonial era. and what i see is that in that early period this territory that we now call afghanistan was populated by many tribes, clans, different populations, but it was also permeated by a sense of uniformity of culture of which islam was perhaps the most important binding factor. but there were also values in common, a sense of common history and something about the social structure that you would find. so that, you know, there were various levels of power, but the people in the villages and the
10:58 pm
people in the cities and the rulers and the peasants and the poor and the rich, they might have conflicts, but they considered themselves all to be part of the same world. then in the course of history what happened is a very different cultural entity suddenly appeared on the afghan scene, and it was pressing in on this area. and these were the global powers whose culture was basically western and who saw this territory as an important spot because of strategic considerations in their contests with each other globally. so now for the afghans for anybody who was part of the ruling elite in afghanistan or wanted to rule the country, it was necessary for them to negotiate with two very different entities, and one was the outside power -- whoever that might be, the british, whatever -- and then there was, you know, the old afghanistan, the original afghanistan, this
10:59 pm
world of clerics and elders that came from the grassroots and the villages and the networks, the tribes. and that world still had its, you know, the old culture that characterized the life in this area. so what i find is that over time in the way that, you know, if you put a liquid in a centrifuge, the heavier stuff separates from the lighter stuff. there's some sense in which afghan society also separated into two societies. and there was this urban western eased elite, and -- westernized elite, and there was this inward looking old country that was afghanistan. and these are both afghan, you know, these are both aspects of afghan society. and they're in context and have been in contention for control of the identity of afghanistan.
11:00 pm
so this is a story that's been going on in afghanistan from the beginning partly caused by the various interventions. but then there's this separate story which is that every 40 years or so without fail, like clock work -- well, not quite like clockwork -- but about every 40 years some foreign global power has tried to come in and dominate the afghan scene and control it and use it for its own purposes. ..


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on